Rosicrucian Writings Online
Facing the TruthBy Raymund Andrea, Grand Master, AMORC of
[From The Rosicrucian Digest April 1956]
IF on some occasions I have particularly stressed certain objectionable tendencies of the times in which we live, it would nevertheless be a mistake to regard this as a confession of pessimism. Were I a pessimist I doubt whether I should have written at all. For the nature of pessimism is to blight and kill; it blunts the edge of the mind, shuts the door to inspiration, and stifles the voice of the spirit. To point to unpleasant facts and indicate tendencies around us which have power to hamper and discourage the aspirant, is not pessimism. If we have given our allegiance to the articles of truth, that allegiance demands of us to see clearly the false values in life which ignore them, distort our vision, and dethrone those articles in their favour. Moreover, if we have elected to give ourselves to the service of others, I do not consider it wise to appear ignorant of so much in our way of life which might well breed pessimism in those who have to face many untoward circumstances which call for deep faith and courage to overcome them.
Because our philosophy is one of overcoming and progress, no matter what the difficulty, we need not therefore shut our eyes to the fact that among ourselves are many who find the best in themselves put to severe trial in these days when they are called upon, quite unconsciously it may be and through their individual point in evolution, to balance the account of their karma and clear a path for their feet. But if we are determined not to be pessimists, let us beware that we do not become such radiant optimists through absorbing too much light from sun-gazing, that we distort the truth about ourselves and life, forget the relative value of reason, and flounder as badly as those who profess and call themselves pessimists.
Now, curiously enough, I find myself quite unable to condemn or refute much of the pessimism encountered today. I am not a sun-gazer, much as I appreciate warmth and light. I am inclined to take a level view to the far-off horizon, where I can see what men and women are doing and what is happening to them. And I have no doubt that there is a weight of pessimism brooding over the landscape which only a miracle could lift. It saps the energy and fogs the mind not only of ordinary thinking people, but also of the well-informed and intellectual: for most of them pin their hopes and most of their aspirations to things and circumstances on the mundane ground floor of existence. They find themselves more and more marshalled and regimented "for the good of the state." They are so perplexed and worried with more and more rules and regulations "for the good of the state," and are bewildered with so many decrees and measures "for the good of the state," that it is small wonder then that they doubt whether there is any good in themselves or anything worth hoping for.
I think you will agree with me that not many can play the full-blooded optimist when their hopes and ambitions, aspirations and ideals, are sidetracked and damped in order that generations yet unborn may realize and profit from them. Men are not made of that kind of stuff. They do not feel they were born for retrogression. They have some urge, whatever it may be, for progress; and if that is frustrated and checkmated, you may be very sure that the decline of the West is not the dark vision of a pessimist, but is well under way.
For the heartening of those who believe in and work for the higher possibilities of mankind, it has been affirmed that an expansion goes on over the world in the direction of the mystical and divine that should be a cause for optimism. We do not dispute this, but should like to see evidence of it. The intellectuals appear to be quite ignorant of it, as their pathetic and ineffective controversies in the leading journals of the day plainly show. They are at a loss what to think. They argue and wrestle and confute one another and demonstrate a commendable skill in the dialectic of the schools. Religion does not satisfy them: it does not stimulate them to individual discovery of the self and its powers, but merely harps on a nebulous future. Philosophy, as they understand it, is a conflict of theories which gives them no firm footing: it exhorts them to be content with their lot, but has no applicable technique how to change it. And science leads them on to a promised land of new but fearsome material revelations: it has no voice for the soul of man. In fact, it is far too clever to trouble about the soul.
Well, if science, philosophy, and religion leave men either spiritually cold or dialectically hot and bothered, with the meaning of life and the possibilities of inner evolution by-passed by those who should be their teachers, what can be expected in the way of inspiration and cooperation from those who imbibe this spiritually negative pabulum and remain as speculative and unconvinced as those who distribute it? Add to all this the radio talks and commentaries with their pretentious titles from the experts in science, philosophy, and religion, and ask yourselves whether you have even glimpsed a greater light, whether you have been shown a new and secret way to the soul of the universe, or whether you stand where you were, perplexed and questioning still, and needing the wisdom and guidance of the superman?
Men and Chains"Man is born free," said Rousseau, or being interpreted, "man is born for freedom; and everywhere he is in chains." But Rousseau was a political theorist, and his classic statement refers to the chains of political bondage. It is still true that man is born for freedom, and no less true that he is still in chains. But we do not deal here with the political aspect. We know a good deal about it, as much and more than Rousseau did; but that is being dealt with effectively elsewhere, and we shall hear plenty more of it. What perplexes the aspirant today is that he himself is in chains as well as his nonaspiring brother.
I know from long contact with the lives of students of mysticism that the portal of entrance to the larger life often appears more menacing than the broad highway they are trying to leave behind them. This must be so: and it is not surprising that the illusionary mist that dims the threshold should at times instil into the questioning heart of aspirants a pessimism about the things that are, instead of optimism about what can be. This is what is happening to them. This is the tempter which would turn them back on to the highway they well know and where they have had ample companionship to fortify them in aims and purposes compatible with it.
But once the door is resolutely closed to that and the eyes are fixed on the path of ascent from purely mundane interests to mystical truth, a testing time must ensue. And the more abrupt and determined is this reversal of interest, the stronger is the demand upon the aspirant's will to hold fast to the new rhythm he has set up for himself. The old ties of the world which have held a man fast for long will not at once fall away and leave him to his new quest for peace. Far from it. He cannot take a pledge to the higher life without having that pledge strongly challenged; and he will be challenged where he is weakest--and where he is strongest. He alone knows from what level in his nature attacks are likely to come, and he must be prepared for them when and where he least expects.
I doubt whether a single aspirant has not experienced challenges in some form or other. I have observed this trial in the life of every sincere aspirant that I have known. And although I have felt compassion, I knew it was good for them. In some it has been so determined and menacing that they have questioned the validity of their highest ideal. There is no condemnation for that. Human nature is human, whatever of divinity informs it; and no matter what the religionists say, the fiercest battle for adjustment between the two is featured in the lives of the greatest saints, sages, and mystics of recorded time. Even there, the keenest struggles of the divine in man are not fully seen and can be sympathetically felt only by the few.
How then can we complain if the two-edged sword of destiny touches the heart of life, wounds us where we feel it most, and no more spares the saint than the sinner? For, from a limited point of view, there is no discrimination: they both rise and fall together; and I believe that fact alone has caused as much anguish in the minds of thinking people as any other. But there are those who feel that, because they have pledged themselves to ascend, the past is therefore miraculously liquidated, the crooked made straight, the imprints and obligations of the incarnations nullified and obliterated having no more power and voice within them, and that the ascent to truth is a prepared and angelic highway. This idea is as ill-conceived, as unjust, and opposed to fact, as the idea that the watery absolution conferred by a priest's finger upon sinners all and sundry can wipe out the decrees of a presiding and righteous Judgment upon the ways of men. The aspirant who believes his past is blotted out by ignoring the possible consequences of it, is a poor thinker indeed. He knows well enough that if he plays the fool today he will pay for it tomorrow. He would be greatly surprised if it were not so. But he cannot conceive that past lives condition the present one, as the present will determine those to come. And that applies to nations as well as to individuals.
The Inner Life
But I believe that comparatively few among Rosicrucian students fall into, or long remain in, this negative attitude. As a general rule one does not feel a call to study until there is a karmic urge to take a step forward in evolution. And it by no means follows that a new student must be a novice. He often has already a good deal of reading and study to his credit which prepare him to enter upon the way of practical experimentation which will consolidate his past knowledge and ensure rapid progress to a life of service. I have known many instances of this: and a very typical one has just reached me in a letter. I will quote from it because of its inspirational character ... "I cannot resist mentioning the impact that your books, recently read and studied, have had upon me. They tore my soul to pieces. They have a tremendous effect upon me; they not only shake me to the foundations, take possession of my mind, but they have a quality of persuasion and appeal to soul and reason combined that do wonderful things for my personal and soul evolution...." I quote this quite impersonally, because there is a profound lesson in it which can be stimulating and helpful to those who are ready for it.
It is not simply the appreciative character of this letter which I note. What arrests my attention is the fact that it comes spontaneously and urgently from the heart. It is an unusual declaration of the inner life. What precisely does it mean? It means that the writer had suddenly responded to a vibrational level of stated truth of the path which was already hers and awaiting awakening and recognition. In a very real sense it was an initiation for which life and circumstances and study had unconsciously prepared her; and at a propitious karmic moment, and as it were by a single dynamic impulse, a door of inner revelation swung wide and she came face to face with her real self. That is one of the rich rewards of past effort, of wrestling with life from all angles, of accepted pain and suffering hidden, it may be, in the far past but destined to bear its appointed fruit in this cycle. It shows that we cannot antedate the future. No matter how hard the way, how unpromising, how prone we are at times to yield to the leaden atmosphere of the world around us, this illusionary veil which confronts us must not be taken for reality.
There are forces which would hold us back and keep us down. It is their nature to do so. They have their part in evolution. Every aspirant will be tested and tried by them. We must look beyond this experience and call upon the will to exercise its supremacy, in spite of any opposition, whether of loneliness, of momentary defeat projecting itself from the endless timelessness, whether of personalities or circumstances thwarting the path we have chosen to tread, whether thrown down before us as a challenge to us by friend or foe.
Fires of Advancement
There is a dark and pregnant line in Tacitus which runs thus: "And those who had not an enemy were destroyed by their friends." The truth of that is worth bearing in mind, for not a few aspirants have been held back and discouraged by those near to them. What is good enough for them should be so for him; that is the attitude at the bottom of the opposition, criticism and his repudiation of old ties. I have known many such cases, and some of them have been pathetic and cruel. He who holds back his brother from the greater light of the path is the enemy of man: and there is a karmic retribution for that. He who loses a friend in the name of the light will find a greater friend in the hand of his Master. It is only a question of time; and it is time that so often defeats us. Be equal to the trial. Nothing can be lost of value which shall not be recovered later in the greater potency of achievement.
We may have knowledge and experience, but something else is needed--the fire of advancement. There are aspirants who are sometimes brought to a complete standstill in study and purpose: the one thing lacking is the fire of the spirit. Had they called upon that spirit, demanded it in the name of all good, believed in its presence and omnipotency, it would have descended upon them and carried them over the precipice of hopelessness.
There are among us those who have demonstrated this for themselves. They know the aspects of life I refer to and have long since reckoned with them. They have seen through the illusions of life and will never again be dominated by them. The raucous tones of the world do not disturb them, for they have the quiet heart and the seeing mind--two impregnable ramparts against the damaging and crucifying tendencies of our way of life. They will never surrender what they have fought for and won--TO HELP YOU!
Do you realize that but for these cultivated types whom karma has mercifully and forcefully and painfully brought to the fore of evolution, there would be not only pessimism but also despair preying upon the vitals of humanity? Are you aware of the secret and impressive influence of those who form the vanguard of evolution? They have not much to show for it; only a life lived determinedly. But the fire of the heart can make a lightning track across the universe, and those who are not wiser are nevertheless better for it; those who can sense it, awaken and live to some purpose. And today it is purpose, a high purpose and far above the average, that aspirants need to steel them to a new and forward advance. I do not refer to sudden and ill-timed enthusiasms. These are of short duration and soon exact the penalties of the opposites and fade out. Purpose here means a wisely conceived plan of procedure, a visioned ideal, whether to be fully achieved or not in this cycle, and the accepting with a divine indifference whatever karma decrees of good or ill, knowing well that whatever that purpose precipitates for its swifter achievement is peculiarly ours and has the sanction of law within it.
The fire of the spirit gives indomitable purpose, but it is not for children on the path. It is for tempered souls who will not be deflected from their aim. This temper characterizes the few, and always will characterize them. Nothing in this life is greater or more worthy than the resolving for ourselves to take the measure of these great ones and to belong to them.
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